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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Green: Vegetation on Our Planet (Tour of Earth)

Although 75% of the planet is a relatively unchanging ocean of blue, the remaining 25% of Earth's surface is a dynamic green. Data from the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite is able to detect these subtle differences in greenness. The resources on this page highlight our ever-changing planet, using highly detailed vegetation index data from the satellite, developed by scientists at NOAA. The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these animations and images.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Understanding the cycles of plant life around the planet is critical to gaining the necessary self-control over human-caused environmental impacts.

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Power to the People, 100% Renewable Energy for All! | Online Solutions Forum | IWECI

Power to the People, 100% Renewable Energy for All! | Online Solutions Forum | IWECI | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

It is a fact that non-renewable energies will, by definition, run out. It is also a fact that in the meantime, dependence on these energy sources is causing multiple global crises.  If we are to preserve modernity and planetary habitability, we must soon shift to 100% renewable energy in all sectors. Despite this basic logic, most of humanity so far has taken measures nowhere near proportional to the problem.

 

One fundamental necessity to breaking the inertia is a robust, global call for a 100% renewable energy target. After all, if a critical mass of people does not set the required goal, we are far less likely to achieve it.

 

The Renewable Energy Policy Institute with key partners has established itself as a leader of this critical call for action. The mission of the Renewables 100 Policy Institute is to focus on creating the foundation for the successful transition to a 100% renewable energy future. Of critical importance are the areas of policy making, technical solutions demonstrated by real life project applications, grassroots education and strategic partnerships with other NGOs and organizations, and effective stakeholder outreach on all levels.

 

Many cities, communities and countries already have 100% renewable energy targets, some of them have already reached those targets and are achieving more than 100% of locally generated renewable energy for details, please see www.renewables100.org and related links.

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Four Charts That Prove the Future of Clean Energy Is Arriving : Greentech Media

Four Charts That Prove the Future of Clean Energy Is Arriving : Greentech Media | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
“We are living it, and it is gaining force.”

 

It would be hard for most Americans to look around and conclude that we are in the middle of an historic shift in our energy sector. Gas-powered cars still dominate the roads, most of us don't own a solar PV system, and more than 70 percent of homes still rely on 100-year-old incandescent light bulbs.

 

But within the energy industry, there are major improvements in the economics of renewables, electric vehicles and lighting that are accelerating an increasingly rapid shift in certain sectors.

 

A new report from the Department of Energy report lays out some of these advances in wind, solar PV, LED lighting and electric vehicles throughout the U.S. They're worth a look.


Framing these trends as proof that the "clean energy economy" is now upon us would be a stretch. If anything, it shows how much experience an industry needs to bring down costs. But these are signs that some pretty big changes are underway in the energy industry -- and Americans are increasingly going to see these changes not just in colorful charts, but in their neighborhoods.

 

"The trends in each sector show that the historic shift to a cleaner, more domestic and more secure energy future is not some far away goal. We are living it, and it is gaining force," conclude the authors of the DOE report.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

All the charts show the same kind of trend, with costs falling fairly regularly, while deployment rises exponentially.  What's not shown here is the competition, which we should expect to drop exponentially once a threshold is reached where they can no longer compete and the clean alternatives take over.

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Bid to clean up the world

Bid to clean up the world | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
An international scientific initiative aimed at reducing the impact of human-made pollution on the health and wellbeing of the whole world was launched in Melbourne, Australia, today.

 

The Global Contamination Research Initiate (GCRI) is a world-wide alliance of scientists, industry and regulators which aims to understand and curb human chemical emissions, which are causing widespread concern over major health effects around the world.

 

"There is now clear evidence that human-made chemicals are spreading around the whole planet via air, soil, water, food, plants, animals, traded goods and in people themselves," said GCRI co-ordinator Professor Ravi Naidu of the University of South Australia and CRC CARE.

"However the full extent of their distribution and their effect on the health of the world population and life on Earth in general remain largely unknown. This is a scientific challenge as large, or larger even, than climate change in that carbon emissions are only part of total human chemical emissions from industry, mining, agriculture, energy production and other activities.

 

"Clearly this is an issue demanding immediate and worldwide research – but the current effort is fragmented across different countries, industries and disciplines. The idea behind GCRI is to help bring focus to a global effort to clean up our world."

 

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Cradle To Cradle Innovation Challenge Announces 10 Finalists | EarthTechling

Cradle To Cradle Innovation Challenge Announces 10 Finalists | EarthTechling | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The products selected to move on to the final round of judging represent some of the best and brightest ideas for the green building industry.

 

According to the official website, the C2C Product Innovation Challenge “seeks to inspire innovators to recreate and retool the way products are designed, manufactured and consumed. The goal of the contest is to identify and reward highly creative and innovative product concepts for healthy, sustainable, affordable housing. The competition is aimed at manufacturers who seek to design and manufacture with superior standards as outlined in the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program.”

 

And now without further ado, the finalists:

 

Ecovative – Mushroom Insulation
Bellwether Materials – Softbatts Sheep’s Wool Insulation
ROMA – Domus Mineral Paints
StormWall Industries – StormWall panels
GR GreenBuilding Products – GR Green Roofing and Siding
bioMASON – Biobrick
Ecococon – Straw Panels
HaploBuilt – HaploBlocks
ECOR – Universal Construction Panels
Dutch Design Initiative – Reinforced Wood Wool Cement Board

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The finalists: http://c2ccertified.org/challenge/finalists
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Waterfootprint.org: Water footprint and virtual water

Waterfootprint.org: Water footprint and virtual water | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The water footprint of a nation shows the total volume of water that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the inhabitants of the nation.

 

Water Footprint Network launches innovative online tool to drive sustainable water use as part of its mission to drive local, national and international improvements to the way water is managed and used.

 

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

 

"Water problems are often closely tied to the structure of the global economy. Many countries have significantly externalised their water footprint, importing water-intensive goods from elsewhere. This puts pressure on the water resources in the exporting regions, where too often mechanisms for wise water governance and conservation are lacking. Not only governments, but also consumers, businesses and civil society communities can play a role in achieving a better management of water resources."

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Alex Steffen sees a sustainable future | Video on TED.com

TED Talks Worldchanging.com founder Alex Steffen argues that reducing humanity’s ecological footprint is incredibly vital now, as the western consumer lifestyle spreads to developing countries.

Via Anne Caspari
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How The Power Of Ocean Waves Could Yield Freshwater With Zero Carbon Emissions

How The Power Of Ocean Waves Could Yield Freshwater With Zero Carbon Emissions | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A two megawatt installation off the coast of Australia aims to power a large-scale desalination process with advanced wave energy technology.

 

Reverse osmosis desalination has been in use for several decades, and works simply enough: high pressure is used to force saltwater through a membrane, producing drinkable freshwater on the other end. Traditionally the pressure is provided with electric pumps powered by fossil fuels, resulting in both carbon dioxide emissions and lots of points for energy loss.

 

But instead of relying on those electric pumps, Carnegie is using the latest iteration of its CETO technology — CETO 5 — to supply that pressure with wave energy instead. Underwater buoys eleven meters in diameter are installed offshore, and as ocean waves catch them, the movement supplies hydraulic power to pump seawater up underground pipes to shore. At that point, the water runs into the desalination plant, where it directly supplies the pressure for the reverse osmosis. Some of that hydraulic energy is also converted into electric power as needed.

 

The resulting system not only cuts out all carbon dioxide emissions, it also greatly reduces the points where energy can be lost, making the process much more energy efficient and cost-effective.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

In addition to powering the reverse osmosis process, it seems the wave powered water pressure could just push salt water up into a tower, thus very efficiently conserving the energy for later use when it is needed.

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The Planet Fund: Crowdfunding the Restoration of our Environment and Communities

The Planet Fund: Crowdfunding the Restoration of our Environment and Communities | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The Planet Fund is the first online global fundraiser created to assist projects the world over with the regeneration of our environment and communities.

The Planet Fund has developed an entity of action — where we have the power to act globally as well as locally.

 

We have developed this platform to address the need for rapid and widespread assistance to projects, people and communities all over the world.

 

We have been told it’s too late. That the damage is irreversible. That there is to be an ongoing rise in disastrous events on the planet in all areas of life; environmentally, socially and economically. Climate change, over population, water contamination, food shortages and increasing desertification — just to name a few of the catastrophes on our doorstep. The Planet Fund started due to seeing firsthand the incredible results from innovative techniques being applied today, the world over, that are addressing the issues of climate change, food security, large-scale land restoration, farmers getting their farms back, carbon sequestration, rapid soil building, biodiversity increase — you name it. We have solutions to our problems. But many of the solutions have a problem; lack of funding. This has been an obstacle for too long.

 

The Planet Fund has decided to turn this problem into a solution — a global crowdfunding / fundraising platform assisting toward action. We now all have the ability to act whether it be on the ground, in the communities or with our finances.

 

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Life After Oil and Gas - Elisabeth Rosenthal, March 2013

Life After Oil and Gas - Elisabeth Rosenthal, March 2013 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Wind, water and sun could power the United States. But will they?

 

A National Research Council report released last week concluded that the United States could halve by 2030 the oil used in cars and trucks compared with 2005 levels by improving the efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles and by relying more on cars that use alternative power sources, like electric batteries and biofuels.

 

“It’s absolutely not true that we need natural gas, coal or oil — we think it’s a myth,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the main author of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy. “You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”


Fatih Birol, chief economist at the 28-nation International Energy Agency, which includes the United States, said that reducing fossil fuel use was crucial to curbing global temperature rise, but added that improving the energy efficiency of homes, vehicles and industry was an easier short-term strategy. He noted that the 19.5 million residents of New York State consume as much energy as the 800 million in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) and that, even with President Obama’s automotive fuel standards, European vehicles were on average more than 30 percent more fuel efficient than American ones.


So as Europeans have grown accustomed to wind turbines dotting the landscape, much of America continues to regard renewable power as a boutique product, cool but otherworldly. When I tell colleagues that Portugal now gets 40 percent of its electricity from renewable power, the standard response is “Portugal is windy.” But many places in America are, too. When I returned from Kristianstad, Sweden, and marveled at how that city uses waste from farms, forestry and food processing plants to make biogas that supplies 100 percent of its heat, the response is likewise disbelief. But I’d venture that a similar plan could work fine in Milwaukee or Burlington, Vt., cities that also anchor rural areas.


MAPPING studies by Dr. Jacobson and colleagues have concluded that America is rich in renewable resources and (unlike Europe) has the empty space to create wind and solar plants.

 

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Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

"The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan represents the kind of visionary work that should be eagerly embraced.  It is the first time that I have seen a plan that makes the possibility of zero emissions feasible and affordable.  In particular, solar energy offers so much promise in the dry and sunny continent.  Politicians have been postponing decisions in this area for too long." - Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal 


"100% renewable energy with zero emissions is achievable in Australia in about a decade if politics takes concerted actions…Moreover, Australia can become the initiator for a serious attempt to shift the world to a solar economy. This is the only promising strategy for climate protection and would provide societies around the world with solutions for climate protection, economic development, poverty reduction and conflict resolution. We need action now!" - Hans-Josef Fell

 

"Every nation in the world should make a plan like this.  If one can get a 100% renewable, zero carbon electricity system by investing 3% of GDP (and 10% of gross investment) for ten years, there is no good reason not to do it. Except, maybe, the straitjacket of old ways of thinking and doing.

This plan lays out a high solar-wind renewable future and then does more.  It looks carefully at the materials requirements of such a future, an aspect of the matter too often left unaddressed.

Australia could be the first large economy to show the way." - John O. Blackburn

 

"I get to work with people all over the world in the fight against global warming, a fight growing increasingly desperate as temperatures climb and rainfall patterns shift. Since Australia leads the world in per capita emissions, it makes sense that its transition planners would be thinking big. This transition obviously won't be easy or simple or cost-free, but given the alternatives it's very nice to know it's technically feasible!" - Bill McKibben 

 

"I strongly endorse the broad concept of such a solar and wind plan and applaud the work of the University of Melbourne and Beyond Zero Emissions.  Our own work underway to calculate the feasibility of a 100% solar - wind plan for the United States has so far had the aim of  testing technical feasibility, and the match seems to be 99-100%. " - Dr David Mills

 

 

 

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Fukushima horror will be visited on U.S. unless we shift to 100% renewable energy | Green Shadow Cabinet

Fukushima horror will be visited on U.S. unless we shift to 100% renewable energy | Green Shadow Cabinet | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

As the horror show at Fukushima worsens by the day, our opposition to atomic energy becomes ever more vital. Now more than ever, we advocate a total "solartopian" shift to renewables for our planet's energy supply.

 

It has been shown for many years that wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation and much more in terms of green energy can power this planet cheaply, cleanly and safely while creating millions of jobs and taking root far more quickly than any "new generation" of reactors.

 

We therefore urge that the nations of the world immediately focus their best energies on containing the horrifying contamination radiating from Fukushima while devoting all the technical, scientific and economic resources necessary to transition our global economy onto a Solartopia green-powered basis as rapidly as possible.

  --  Harvey Wasserman   Secretary of Energy, Green Shadow Cabinet
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If nuclear power had started out independent of nuclear weapons, and if the last 50 years had been about developing the really safe technology that has always been possible, well we would all be better off.  But that's not what happened.  

 

And now, while we may continue research in nuclear technologies, all the large-scale investments should be focused on developing and deploying 100% renewable resources.   Shut down all the subsidies of nuclear and fossil fuel industries, start charging the true costs, and recoup all the externalities, and then channel those funds into renewable energy instead.  

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Renewables future no more costly than fossil fuels : Renew Economy

The Australian government appears to have made a remarkable concession following the release of the 100% renewables report by the country’s energy market operator – a renewables future will be no more costly than a largely fossil fuel alternative.

 

This should not be a surprise to anyone who has properly considered the costs of new generation – as ACT minister Simon Corbell has – and their likely progress in coming years. Wind, and then solar, clearly offer the cheapest options.

 

New coal and gas plants will be priced out of the market, an important consideration when taking into account that most current generation needs to be replaced in coming decades. (Some pro-nuclear web-sites and commentators like to say that nuclear energy will be within the same cost bracket, but that is only if the cost of capital is ignored.)

 
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Phytoremediation: Healing Urban Landscapes through Plants

Phytoremediation: Healing Urban Landscapes through Plants | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Two graduate students present a concept for a former harbor site in north Amsterdam exploring the benefits of phytoremediation.


In the world of modern architecture everything has to be sustainable. If this means that we have to take care of nature and use our resources wisely then maybe phytoremediation can be considered a sustainable method of re-designing highly polluted areas.


Healing, remediating, cleaning, and purifying contaminated soil using plants to extract pollutants is the method of phytoremediation. It is getting attention lately, as it appears to be an effective low-cost and sustainable alternative when dealing with polluted soils. Interlaced into a good landscape design strategy it can save money, improve quality of urban spaces, and provides active and aesthetic uses of polluted areas until they are safe for other uses. 


Three categories of pollution were distinguished: heavily polluted soils, which will take up to 200 years to clean, medium polluted soils (about 60 years to clean), and clean soils. According to the level of pollution, the distribution of public spaces, land use, and accessibility of the areas are defined. Heavily polluted areas are completely closed to access during the purification process, but still visible, providing aesthetical sight of the landscape.


Via Lauren Moss
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Maybe before 200 years we will figure out how to speed up the process.

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Healing the Planet Through Photosynthesis and Carbon Sequestration

Healing the Planet Through Photosynthesis and Carbon Sequestration | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

If we implement wise geoengineering, even eating meat could help tackle the backlog of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

With the right kind of technology, Pollan believes that eating meat can actually be good for the planet. That’s right: Raising livestock, if done properly, can reduce global warming. That’s just one element of a paradigm shift that Pollan and other experts, including Dennis Garrity, the former director general of the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hans Herren of the Millennium Institute in Washington, D.C., are promoting. They believe that new agricultural methods wouldn’t just reduce the volume of heat-trapping gases emitted by our civilization — they would also, and more importantly, draw down the total amount of those gases that are already in the atmosphere.


"Depending on how you farm, your farm is either sequestering or releasing carbon," says Pollan. Currently, the vast majority of farms, in the United States and around the world, are releasing carbon — mainly through fertilizer and fossil fuel applications but also by plowing before planting. "As soon as you plow, you’re releasing carbon," Pollan says, because exposing soil allows the carbon stored there to escape into the atmosphere.

 

One method of avoiding carbon release is no-till farming: Instead of plowing, a tractor inserts seeds into the ground with a small drill, leaving the earth basically undisturbed. But in addition to minimizing the release of carbon, a reformed agriculture system could also sequester carbon, extracting it from the atmosphere and storing it — especially in soil but also in plants — so it can’t contribute to global warming.

 

According to Pollan, photosynthesis is "the best geoengineering method we have."


"When you have a grassland, the plants living there convert the sun’s energy into leaf and root in roughly equal amounts. When the ruminant (e.g., a cow) … grazes that grassland, it trims the height of the grass from, say, 3 feet tall to 3 inches tall. The plant responds to this change by seeking a new equilibrium: it kills off an amount of root mass equal to the amount of leaf and stem lost to grazing. The (discarded) root mass is then set upon by the nematodes, earthworms and other underground organisms, and they turn the carbon in the roots into soil. This is how all of the soil on earth has been created: from the bottom up, not the top down."

 

The upshot, both for global climate policy and individual dietary choices, is that meat eating carries a big carbon footprint only when the meat comes from industrial agriculture. "If you’re eating grassland meat," Pollan says, "your carbon footprint is light and possibly even negative."

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

How much meat might a meat eater eat if a meat eater might eat meat?

 

In other words, if we can raise livestock in a way that is actually good for the grasslands by more effectively sequestering carbon in the soil, we still need to figure out how much livestock we can consume that way?  We need to recycle our human waste back into the land as well.

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Circular argument for a sustainable future

Circular argument for a sustainable future | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A new online toolkit for manufacturers and retailers has been released to enable users to pinpoint areas in which their businesses could be made both more environmentally sustainable and profitable.

 

At the moment large sectors of the economy follow a linear model in which limited materials are used to make products which are ultimately disposed of and sent to landfill. "Living on a planet with finite resources means that we cannot afford to keep on throwing materials away - we need to be creative in terms of the ways in which products are designed and components reused at every stage of their lifecycle," Evans said.

 

The core philosophy of the toolkit breaks any product's lifecycle down into six stages - its design, usage, maintenance, reuse, refurbishment and recycling. 

 

Within each of these areas, companies are encouraged to interrogate whether there is room to improve the product, or the service they offer, to make their business more environmentally sustainable. For example, the design process is analysed to see where material is being wasted, how much is biodegradable, if the materials used are recyclable and other design changes.

 

The reparability of products is also a major consideration - even at the design level, the manufacturer is encouraged to take the future refurbishment and maintenance of a product into account, by asking questions such as whether it can be easily dismantled and reassembled, and whether it is set up in such a way that faults can be easily identified.

 

Users of the toolkit are also asked to consider whether their products can be upgraded rather than replaced, whether they have the potential to be reused second-hand, and whether, once they reach the end of their life, the parts can be recycled.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

With 100% recycling, there is no throwing things away, so every thing we make must be examined in light of the entire lifecycle of the materials used.

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Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed In Agriculture - UN Agencies Call for an End to Industrial Agriculture & Food System

Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed In Agriculture - UN Agencies Call for an End to Industrial Agriculture & Food System | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

A rising chorus from UN agencies on how food security, poverty, gender inequality and climate change can all be addressed by a radical transformation of our agriculture and food system.

 

It is generally acknowledged that industrial agriculture and our globalized food system is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, up to 50% if proper account is taken of emissions from land use change and deforestation, most of which are due to agriculture, and for food-related transport, processing, storage, and consumption (see Figure). Nevertheless, it is also generally recognized that agriculture holds tremendous promise for mitigating climate change, and much else besides.


The solution for food security under climate change is a radical transformation of the agriculture and food system that would at the same time eliminate poverty, gender inequality, poor health and malnutrition.  [...] these interrelated problems could all be solved by a paradigm shift away from the current industrial agriculture and globalized food system to a conglomerate of small, biodiverse, ecological farms around the world and a localized food system that promotes consumption of local/regional produce. 


Carbon sequestration could be enormous

Andre Leu, President of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), provides a thorough review on carbon sequestration in organic soils from diverse sources and ecosystems.  [...] Thus, organic agriculture offers the potential not only of substantial savings on direct emissions, but also sequestering enormous amount of carbon in the soil.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

One of our worst problems can be turned into one of our best solutions.

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"We should not fight nature but join forces"

"We should not fight nature but join forces" | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Join forces with nature. This should be our land use and coastal and river management strategy. We should not fight nature, but use its power.

It is only in this way that we can provide a growing global population with food, energy and a safe place to live while using the earth's surface both intensively and sustainably, said Professor Jakob Wallinga on assuming the chair of Soil Geography and Landscape at Wageningen University.

In pre historic times, people made use of the landscape as they encountered it. They adapted their lifestyle to what nature offered them. Gradually, however, the process of adapting and altering the landscape to the needs of humanity began. More recently, this process stopped taking the existing landscape into consideration and simply developed it. Currently, fifty per cent of the earth's land mass has been altered or adapted by humanity. 

 

Unfortunately, says Wallinga, up until now humanity has not been very successful in their management of the earth's surface. While intensive interventions have addressed specific problems, these interventions have only solved the problem in the short term, with little regard for the long term. Due to this, long term effects are often unexpected and sometimes devastating.

We have been intervening in natural systems for thousands of years with too little insight and understanding into how the system works and, moreover, into the long term effects of our interventions. Concurrently, it is becoming increasingly clear that nature organised things quite well without human intervention, explains Professor Wallinga. In his opinion, it is time that people became aware that it is better to work with, rather than against the forces of nature.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

As long as we are still living on this Earth, we must join forces with nature to help restore it to the state it was in before we messed it up.

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Ecopolis: The emergence of 'regenerative cities'

Ecopolis: The emergence of 'regenerative cities' | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Professor Herbert Girardet has spent much of his working life on this issue and has come up with the concept of ‘regenerative cities' that aims to set out a roadmap of transformation in the way cities function - and also offers hope that humanity's fate need not be one of resource wars, conflict and climate chaos.

 

Girardet gradually came to realise that the concept of ‘sustainability' is no longer fit for purpose;

 

"Today there is much less to sustain than when the term was coined in the 1980s. We've exceeded the limits to growth on nearly every aspect of development. Sustainable development will not dig us out of the hole we find ourselves in. We have to start thinking in terms of regenerative development. This means working towards giving back to nature as much we take.

 

So, what is a regenerative city - ‘Ecopolis'? It is one that relies primarily on local and regional food supplies; it is powered, heated, cooled and driven by renewable energy, and it reuses resources and restores degraded ecosystems. This is diametrically opposed to how many cities are currently run: they use resources without concern for their origins or destination of their waste products; they emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide without ensuring reabsorption and they consume huge amounts of meat produced mainly with imported feed, often from devastated rainforest regions.

 

Waste management is an absolutely key concept in regenerative cities as it not only reduces waste going to landfill, but helps capture organic waste for composting, increases the recovery of recyclables and facilitates the growth of small businesses that use the ‘waste' as raw materials.

 

For instance, since 2006 the city of Oakland, California, has worked to implement a strategic target of Zero Waste, and has already achieved an incredible 75% reduction in waste dumping. This was accomplished by pursuing ‘upstream' redesign strategies to reduce the volume and toxicity of products and materials, and by improving ‘downstream' reuse and recycling of end-of-life products including the re-use of products and materials, to stimulate local economic and workforce development.


Local food production is also a key element of regenerative cities. Currently many cities import their foodstuffs from all over the world, resulting in huge and highly unsustainable ecological footprints.


Professor Girardet is eloquent and animated on the subject of regenerative cities. He believes that cities, at best, are important global assets and can be the places where solutions to the world's environmental and climate problems can be effectively implemented. It is in cities where creativity flourishes and people can interact and engage vigorously in the search for solutions.


We have to change course and to adapt and thrive in ‘Ecopolis' if humanity and the biosphere are to survive.


Via Steven Putter, ddrrnt
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Mosaic: Abundant Clean Energy For & By The People

From: https://joinmosaic.com/blog/abundant-clean-energy

 

How do we get to 100% clean energy? At Mosaic, we believe the fastest way is to allow more people to participate in building the clean energy economy.  

 

Until recently, there were good reasons why almost all of us were energy consumers, rather than energy producers. We didn’t have good alternatives to fossil fuels and so we were hamstrung: concerned about the environment, our communities, and our childrens' futures, but unable to do much more than change our light bulbs. We had little choice but to rely on a system in which only the biggest players—those who could blow the top off of a mountain or finance a billion dollar power plant—could profit from the world’s biggest industry.

 

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are about to host a conference called Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy. I think it’s safe to say that most of the speakers at the conference would never have guessed they’d be talking about 100% renewable energy in 2013.

 

The whole drift of this transition in our energy system is towards decentralization, flexibility, and resilience. New technologies are doing to energy what the Internet did to telecommunications. Part of the reason wind and solar have spread faster than anyone would have expected is because they are so easy for communities, small businesses, and everyday people to finance and create.

 

We have the technology we need to create abundant clean energy for and by the people. Now it's time to start breaking down the barriers that keep people from participating. We need to change the laws that prevent communities and individuals from creating their own energy projects, or that make it difficult for them to access government incentive programs. We need to create and scale businesses that make it possible for people to invest in, own, share, lease, and, above all, prosper from clean energy.

 

I believe this is the greatest opportunity of our time. Each person with access to the clean energy economy creates not only electrical power, but also political power. Each rooftop solar power plant produces not only 2 KW of clean electricity, but also two clean energy supporting American voters. 

 

How do we get to 100% clean energy? We believe the fastest way is to do what we do best: democratize.

 

Billy Parish: We believe that the fastest way to build the clean energy economy is to allow more people to participate in it and to benefit from it. So come check us out at joinmosaic.com and invest in clean energy solutions.

 

To learn more about Mosaic and invest directly in a solar energy project, visit https://joinmosaic.com Mosaic is an online marketplace that makes it easy for...

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A Swoosh of Sustainability: Nike Builds Store Out of 100% Trash

A Swoosh of Sustainability: Nike Builds Store Out of 100% Trash | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

As much as a company that produces disposable goods can be, Nike has long been a leader in sustainability.

 

But now the company has taken an almost unheard of eco-leap.

 

In Shanghai, Nike has partnered with Taiwanese ecocentric architectural firm Miniwiz Sustainable Development to build a concept store from the ground up with heaps of upcycled garbage. The retail outlet utilizes 5,500 soda cans, 2,000 plastic water bottles and 50,000 old CDs and DVDs.

 

All of the materials used to build the structure are derived from urban waste and are mechanically assembled—not glued or cemented—so that they can be re-recycled at the end of this Nike store’s days. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

When we reach the goal of recycling 100% of all our waste, it will be much more common that we build everything from 100% recycled materials. 

We should build things in a way that makes it is easier to recycle all of the materials. But fortunately, when everything is made from 100% recycled materals, there will be more of a demand for those recycled materials.

The cost of products must account for the cost of recycling them at the end of their life. Either we pay up front or we pay in the end.

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TEDxWarwick - David MacKay - How the Laws of Physics Constrain Our Sustainable Energy Options

Department of Climate Change Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor David MacKay FRS, is responsible for ensuring the best science and engineering advice underpins DECC's policy and decision-making.

 

 

If you like this, there is an hour-long presentation with much more detail at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFosQtEqzSE

 

From his book about the same subject, http://www.withouthotair.com/

"Sustainable Energy - without the hot air" presents the numbers that are needed to answer these questions: How huge are Britain's renewable resources, compared with our current energy consumption? How big do renewable energy facilities have to be, to make a significant contribution? How big would our energy consumption be if we adopted strong efficiency measures? Which efficiency measures offer big savings, and which offer only 5 or 10%? Do new much-hyped technologies such as hydrogen or electric cars reduce energy consumption, or do they actually make our energy problem worse?  

 


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

MacKay focuses on the energy density of various energy alternatives, as well as how much more efficient we could hope to be to avoid consuming energy in the first place.  

 

Interesting and relevant, but what he presents is misleading.  It is a worthwhile comparison to make, but it needs to be done fairly.  Here is a good critique: http://chrisvernon.co.uk/2011/10/a-lot-of-hot-air-david-mackay-fudges-the-figures-in-favour-of-nuclear-power/

 

In particular, wind energy turbines don't use up the land area required, but only occupy about 5% of the land, leaving the rest for other things, including, say, solar energy collectors on top of roofs, which may be on top of spaces used for other purposes.  On the other hand the energy density of nuclear power needs to consider the entire cost of all the externalities as well.

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Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study, May 2011

Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study, May 2011 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
UN's climate change science body says renewables supply, particularly solar power, can meet global demand

 

Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world's energysupply within four decades - but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.


Investing in renewables to the extent needed would cost only about 1% of global GDP annually, said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.


Ramon Pichs, co-chair of one of the key IPCC working groups, said: "The report shows that it is not the availability of [renewable] resources but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades. Developing countries have an important stake in the future – this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment."


Sven Teske, renewable energy director at Greenpeace International, and a lead author of the report, said: "The IPCC report shows overwhelming scientific evidence that renewable energy can also meet the growing demand of developing countries, where over 2 billion people lack access to basic energy services and can do so at a more cost-competitive and faster rate than conventional energy sources. Governments have to kick start the energy revolution by implementing renewable energy laws across the globe."



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With An 'All-Out' Federal Renewable Energy Strategy, How Long Before We Could Be 100% Renewably Powered?

With An 'All-Out' Federal Renewable Energy Strategy, How Long Before We Could Be 100% Renewably Powered? | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
If an "All-Out" federal strategy on renewable energy started today in the United States, how long would it take for us to be 100% renewably powered? This question was originally answered on Quora by Mark Rogowsky.

 

Probably 20-30 years to get to 70-80%, but 80 years to get the last 20-30%


There are a lot of roadblocks to 100% renewable energy, but relatively few toward mostly renewable energy — assuming you’ve solved the politics problem. Here’s what you need:


An integrated long-distance grid

Millions of electric cars

Billions of solar panels and millions of wind turbines

X, Y, and Z Prizes

Some amount of biofuel magic will be conjured up

It’s going to take time

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Excellent question, and a well-reasoned answer.  But I suspect that if we really want an all-out effort, we could probably move a lot faster.  How about 5-10 years to get to 70%, another 5-10 years to get to 90%, and then maybe the last 10% will take care of itself.  The faster we move now, the more we will save by not having to deal with as much climate change in the future, so it pays for itself.

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How solar and EVs will kill the last of the industry dinosaurs : Renew Economy

How solar and EVs will kill the last of the industry dinosaurs : Renew Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Several years ago, Tony Seba, an energy expert from Stanford University, published a book called Solar Trillions, predicting how solar technologies would redefine the world’s energy markets and create an investment opportunity worth tens of trillions of dollars.

 

Most people looked at him, he says, as if he had three heads. That was possibly because the book was written before the recent plunge in the cost of solar modules had taken effect, and before most incumbent utilities had woken up to the fact that solar – even with minor penetration levels – was turning their business models upside down.

 

Seba is now working on a new book, with even more dramatic forecasts than his first. His new prediction is that by 2030, solar will make the fossil fuel industry more or less redundant. Even more striking is his forecast that electric vehicles will do the same thing to the oil industry by around the same date.

 

The predictions are made on the basis that the cost of solar and EV batteries will continue to fall, while the cost to consumers of sourcing energy from fossil fuels through the grid or liquid fuels will continue to rise. Before the decade is out, Seba says, both technologies will pass a tipping point that will eventually sweep the incumbents aside, just as technology and cost developments have done in the computer, internet, media, photographic and telecommunications industries.

 

“I am incredibly optimistic that by 2030, nuclear, coal, gas, big hydro, and oil will be all but obsolete,” Seba told RenewEconomy in an interview in San Francisco last month. “The world will be mostly powered by solar and wind, and most new vehicles will be electric. The architecture of energy markets is going from centralized to distributed – in liquids and the electric market.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is why we CAN imagine we are headed toward a 100% renewable energy future.

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